Day 5 Reflections 3/3 – Living in Community


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So, on to the next instalment of my reflection on the residential weekend – Sunday, and Day 5 of the course.

We woke up in Emerson College and I had a beautiful walk around the site, which I hadn’t actually seen much of on the saturday. It was around 7am and the sun was just breaking through and the birds were beginning to sing their faces off (not literally). I took a little vid and some photo shots too… putting them in a gallery here sort of ended up a poem – here you go:

After a swift breakfast we were off to Haothly Hill for the day – a living community with around 70 residents, all of whom play a role in the working of the community as a whole. More of this later. Here’s my photos of the day with a few explanations:

Now then – I’m running out of time a little – as I write, Day 6 is approaching tomorrow!… and I’ve a friend coming round for dinner in half an hour. However I do want to get some final thoughts down about Day 5 that are just reflective and not linked to link work ands design necessarily…

…although before I forget, I think my favourite bit of this day (aside from spending more time outside), was the tool we got – PMI (Positive, Minus and Interesting analysis tool) and SWOC (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Challenges analysis tool). I know SWOC from many many many years ago when it was known as SWOT analysis, and the “T” was for Threats, rather than the softer and more friendly sounding Challenges.

The day on the whole, was focused around Community – what is it, what does it mean to me? Do I live in community and what are some of the ‘models’ of community living? As mentioned, we spent the day in Hoathly Hill community, which was gorgeous…. but….

… I had an interesting reaction to it. At first I was just blown away by how beautiful it was, as can be seen in the photos above. But as the day went on I kept asking myself if this was my idyllic way to live? Could I live here in harmony? The more I checked in with myself the more I found myself answering “no”.

Now, I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, but something just didn’t suit my current temperament, or, maybe ‘energy’ is a better word. I mentioned this to a few course-mates and I got the feeling that I might be a little on my own here. Several people commented that their idea of an ideal community would be one where it’s a lot closer knit and people actually live together, cook together and support each other – probably less people too.

But it wasn’t those specifics that I wasn’t getting into actually – if anything I’d prefer this more ‘independent group of dwellings’ model rather than 20 people in one big house (I’d find that claustrophobic). But there was definitely something…. hmmmm, nope, still not clear what, but it’s there. I’m going to have to come back to this!

Here’s some notes to spark some reflection:


Above, day starts with some group games – building human moving sculptures was great, and we seemed to inadvertently use the patterns we’d learned the day before as our inspiration – we got all five!***


Above, what does community mean to me? Interesting that it’s definitely not geographic, necessarily, in my mind.


Above, what are some of my communities? Communities of both interest and location.


Above, beginning to apply some analysis to community models. The use of involvement zones was a little like the zoning concept – you can see it applied in the next photo, to all of my communities I’d written down:


Above, interesting to note how far away my immediate family are – both in location and in my influence zone! The more detailed analysis is next:


Above – then we got to my favourite bit of the day – the PMI tool – this allowed us to QUICKLY analyse the Positive, the Minus (negative) and the Interesting elements of an issue. I used the tool to look at my Shaolin Wahnam community. Awesome!

Then, another tool – SWOC:


Seriously, I now have to go…. this post could go on and on…. in fact it probably already has!



*** NB. apologies if anyone finds the term ‘Chinese Whispers’ offensive. It’s the name of the game as I learned it as a kid, but I haven’t thought of it in years and years – suddenly using the name again feels like an anachronism that could be perceived as racist, so just acknowledging that was not my intent and I’ll re-name the game in my head to ‘Broken Telephone’ or something. 


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